April First Friday Preview: What’s your one hiring rule?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recently quoted as saying “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person. I think this rule has served me pretty well … Facebook is not a company for everyone in the world.” This is apparently Zuckerberg’s one absolute for hiring. Regardless of whether you agree with Zuckerberg, consider your one hiring rule, or even your top three, and how they have impacted the success of your business. Have these rules been constant or have they evolved over time? Most importantly, how effective have they been in shaping a unique company culture that attracts and retains top talent?

Hiring rules are developed to help companies ensure they recruit candidates who are well-suited for their organization. Aside from degrees and certifications that may be state or federally mandated for specific roles, these guidelines have more to do with what companies attribute to successful hiring, as opposed to hard and fast hiring rules. No matter what businesses consider to be their hiring musts, every organization can benefit from periodically assessing whether their hiring rules are truly yielding the employees they seek, or if they are creating unnecessary hoops for candidates and interviewers.

Google is a prime example of an organization that is revered as the ultimate dream company, yet saw the importance of re-evaluating its hiring process. Up until a few years ago, prospective Google employees frequently were required to undergo more than 10 interviews. The lengthy hiring process created a time-intensive ordeal for hiring managers, causing the company to frequently lose top talent to its competitors. Google overhauled its process and limited each candidate to five interviews, recognizing that the longer candidates are on hold, the more time they have to get another job offer or accept a counteroffer.

If a major technology force like Google saw the importance of revisiting how it hires, perhaps it is time for your organization to do the same. “Many companies have established long-standing hiring rules that they swear by, but the reality is hiring is not a static function, nor is it effective if the process deters potential “right-fit” candidates,” says Nancy Halverson, vice president of global operations for MRINetwork. “Further, when employers have open jobs for long periods of time because they haven’t been able to find the “right” employee, it’s a clear indication that they may be out of touch with how to attract and retain high performers that will thrive in their organization’s environment.”

Halverson provides the following tips for re-evaluating hiring rules:

  • Review the number of hires over the last five years and assess how many of those individuals have become significant contributors in their respective domains, or to the company’s overall success. What characteristics do they have in common?
  • Annually consider the organization’s top hiring rules and whether they are still effective in recruiting quality talent that will fit seamlessly within the company culture.
  • Review hiring situations that didn’t work out, but don’t obsess on the reasons these individuals were unsuccessful in their roles. Instead focus on the positive skills or experience that they possessed and see how these attributes could be beneficial to the department or the company overall.
The rules of engagement are constantly changing when it comes to hiring, and potentially so are an employer’s hiring tenets. Halverson notes, “As retention is becoming more critical than ever, the true testament of whether an organization’s hiring rule(s) work is revealed in their ability to engage and hold onto top producing employees that are essential to the success of the company.”

Is it worth it to invest in recruiters?

What is the most common ‘nay’ a recruiter hears when reaching out to new clients?… 

“It is cheaper for us to do our recruiting internally.”

In these situations, it is usually a Human Resources manager paired with the team or department lead that are in charge of finding and placing talent from start to finish. This is a huge undertaking considering that the HR manager is also in charge of managing compensation and benefits, managing federal HR compliance and audits, mediating employee complaints and performance reviews, among a plethora of other things that can pop up at any given moment. 

The hiring process also takes valuable time away from the hiring manager and their specific projects and objectives. This person may not have experience or interest in the hiring process and view it as a poor use of their time.

On the surface, this arrangement makes sense. However, is it really logical to think that someone that is always on call to deal with conflict, sensitive information, and employees’ questions paired with another that is inundated with their own department’s deadlines and projects have the time to find the very best candidates for your company?

Consider the hard, non-refundable costs of doing all of your recruiting internally:

Say you are hiring a Director of  Marketing ($165,000), and you are recruiting internally. It is safe to assume that the key players will, at the very least, be the HR Manager (median salary of $90,000 or $43.27/hr) and the VP of Marketing ($220,000/year or $105.77/hr).

We will combine the hourly rates for the Director of Marketing and the HR Manager to find the estimated cost of hiring internally, starting our search with 15 resumes:

Writing job spec for job postings– 2.5 hours $372.60

Speaking to job boards and posting adverts – 3 hours $447.12

Fielding calls from recruiters & applicants – 6 hours $894.24

Reviewing CV’s – 8 hours $1,192.32

Telephone Interviews (30 mins x 15 interviews) – 7.5 hours $1117.80

Face to face interviews (1 hr x 10 interviews) – 20 hours $2,980.80

2nd Interviews (1 hr x 5 interviews) – 5 hours $745.20

Subsequent meetings about the interviews – 4 hours $596.16

Making offers (emails / calls / paperwork) – 1 hour $149.04

Total – 57 hours

Cost of job postings (CareerBuilder/Monster) – ~$400 for each posting @ 2 postings

Grand total – $8.895.28


These are only the hard costs. What soft cost may also be leaking valuable time and dollars?

1. Your job search may take longer to fill and cause continued stress to current employees.

What is the cost of having this position open? How much stress is the rest of the team absorbing by picking up the slack? Depending on the nature of the position, you may be starting from square one or close to it. Recruiters have a built in network, and are masters of recruiting passive talent. 

2. You may not have access to the best fit the first go round.

When you are limited on time and resources, it makes sense to search for resumes through job boards and direct postings. However, research shows that some of the best candidates are passive candidates. It is the recruiters job to constantly build her network and stay in touch with talent that are not actively posting their resume or applying to job board postings. Your job posting may have all of the right keywords, but the best candidates may not be searching for them at all.

3. Adopting a ‘no recruiters’ policy leaves no safety cushion.

Despite careful screening and multiple interviews, sometimes an employee is simply not the right fit. It probably has nothing to do with their skills and their ability to do the work. Perhaps it is a personality clash with team members, or they do not connect with the company culture.

First of all, it is the recruiters top priority to get to know your organization and culture and to ask the right questions to candidates before they are presented to you. Candidates are offered and accept jobs because of their skills; they leave them because of culture or fit.

Secondly, a recruiter’s fee (typically 25%-30% of the candidate’s compensation), may seem more expensive in the short term, but rarely ends up costing more in the long term. Recruiters’ networks have been built over years of industry experience and are always expanding. We only present our clients with the very best candidates. 

Finally, If for some reason you find the candidate we place is not the best fit, the recruiter will replace the candidate at no cost. If your internal team has to go back to square one, you are looking at almost $18,000 for round two and even more time where your current employees are overworked, disengaged, and becoming less and less productive.

Are you ready to start thinking strategically about your hiring practices and to invest in the long term?